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May 2, 2017

What is Microsoft Windows 10 S?

by John_A

Microsoft has announced a new version of its Windows 10 operating system called Windows 10 S.

Announced at the company’s 2 May event focused on education, the company plans to double down on Windows by offering this new version that offers a range of advantages to users in education.

However, when using Windows 10 S, you probably won’t know that there’s any difference to Windows 10 Pro, apart from the different stock wallpaper.

Windows 10 Student? 

Windows 10 S is described as a fully-functional version of Windows that is designed to run smoothly on all hardware. Microsoft hasn’t revealed exactly what the S stands for, but says that its evolved from features that teachers have asked for – hence the education tie-in.

Those things include things like faster log-in, better battery life, the ability to run full desktop apps, easy management across large numbers of devices and software that only runs verified apps.

Windows 10 Sandboxed? 

That’s the big catch with Windows 10 S: it’s designed to only run verified apps from the Windows Store. You will not be able to download apps online and install them, so this version is sandboxed. 

That means it’s potentially more secure for groups of users, but it also means that Microsoft knows exactly what software it’s going to be dealing with which should mean that power demands can be matched, without some scrappy rogue app sitting in the background eating power and hogging resources.

If a person using Windows 10 S tries to install an app from outside of the Windows Store, it will be stopped, but you’ll then be offered an alternative that’s from the Windows Store, so verified by Microsoft.

Windows 10 Speed?

Microsoft has demonstrated that a new user logging on to a Windows 10 S will be able to get into the PC faster than a standard Windows 10 Pro PC. The aim here is to ensure that students are able to get to work with minimal delays.

There aren’t any hardware restrictions on Windows 10 S either, as it’s designed to run across a full range of devices.

What about Office 365 on Windows 10 S?

Yes, you’ll be able to install and run Office 365 on Windows 10 S, so users will get access to the essential tools for productivity. Microsoft has also confirmed that the full Office 365 will be available through the Microsoft Store and as a sweetener for education users, Office will be free. 

If you’re looking to buy a Windows 10 S device for normal daily use, it looks like you’ll have to pay for Office 365 separately.

Can you upgrade Windows 10 S to Windows 10 Pro?

Yes, you can, which suggests that these are very close in terms of the actual software running the show.

You’ll be able to upgrade a Windows 10 S device to Windows 10 Pro with just a few clicks and an update. That will remove the restriction on app installs.

This maybe an attractive option for a customer who finds they need an app that’s not verified by Microsoft so isn’t accessible. This will cost $49 for individuals (UK price to be confirmed), however, for those using Microsoft Intune for Education to manage devices, you’ll be able to update to Windows 10 Pro free. 

The idea for Intune users is that if there’s a specific piece of specialised software that you need in a class or laboratory for example, you’ll be able to change the relevant computer to allow that.

Microsoft has also confirmed that education users will be able to move devices from Windows 10 Pro to Windows 10 S.

What about third-party devices on Windows 10 S?

Microsoft is working on compatibility with a wide range of third-party accessories and devices, because you’ll have to have drivers signed by Microsoft to be able to use them with Windows 10 S. 

There may be some holes, but as Windows 10 S is brand new, we don’t know where those might fall.

How much will Windows 10 S cost?

You’ll be able to get PCs running Windows 10 S from as little as $189, but there’s no word on whether these are limited to education or the wider public.

Microsoft has also announced the Surface Laptop, a premium take on Windows 10 S designed to rival the MacBook. This will be launching on 15 June, offering plenty of power and high-quality Surface design, but is priced at $999.

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